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After the fire: Some trails, campgrounds reopen in Waterton Lakes National Park

WATERTON, Alta. — Parks Canada has reopened more trails and campgrounds in Waterton Lakes National Park which was devastated by a forest fire last fall.

The blaze in the southern Alberta park in September consumed more than 190 square kilometres, including about 80 per cent of the park’s popular hiking trails.

The park was put under a mandatory evacuation on Sept. 8 that lasted for two weeks.

Parks Canada says 50 kilometres of trails have been reopened.

Three backcountry campgrounds are also available to the public.

The agency says staff first had to repair damaged and destroyed benches and footbridges, as well as cut and clear fallen and burned trees.

Areas that have been reopened include the Bertha Falls, Bertha Lake, Crandell Lake Loop, Horseshoe Basin and Lakeshore trails.

The Bertha Bay, Bertha Lake and Boundary Bay backcountry campgrounds are also ready, although Bertha Lake may be affected by snowmelt.

The townsite and lake areas were already open.

The Crandell Mountain campground, Bear’s Hump Trail, Akamina Parkway and Cameron Lake day-use area remain closed.

Parks Canada says it’s too early to say when those areas might reopen and is asking visitors to stay away. Entering a closed area can result in a fine.

Flames swept as far as the edges of the townsite last fall. The windswept Prince of Wales Hotel, which was built in 1927 on a bluff overlooking Waterton Lake, was also threatened. But the national historic site was ultimately saved.

The Waterton Lakes natural area continues across the border into Montana where it is called Glacier National Park.

The Canadian Press